To mark Cancer Prevention Week (14–18 May 2012) the Public Health Agency (PHA) has highlighted that although around 9,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland, one third of these cancers are preventable and early detection helps successful treatment.
The PHA has outlined key steps that can reduce the risk of getting cancer:
- If you smoke, try to stop.
- Keep your alcohol intake within safe limits.
- Take regular exercise and aim to keep your weight within the healthy range.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least 5 portions each day.
- Avoid getting sunburn – use sunscreen and a hat. Do not use sunbeds.
- If your daughter or a teenager you know is offered the vaccine against cervical cancer (HPV), encourage her to take it.
The stage of disease at the time of a cancer diagnosis can affect survival. Northern Ireland has three cancer screening programmes in place to help detect the first signs of cancer, therefore aiding successful treatment. These are the cervical, breast and bowel cancer screening programmes. Teenage girls are also offered HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA, said: “We know that if cancer is diagnosed early, a person is more likely to survive. It is therefore important to increase public awareness of warning signs which need to be investigated to ensure speedy diagnosis. We also want everyone to know what they can do to reduce their risk of cancer.”
Dr McCarthy added: “I would urge everyone to take note of the simple ways to reduce their own cancer risk, and those eligible for cancer screening, to avail of it when invited.”
For more information on Northern Ireland cancer screening programmes visit www.cancerscreening.hscni.net
Contact PHA Press Office on 028 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
Some examples of symptoms which require a visit to your GP are:
- Coughing up blood.
- Having a mole which begins to change, such as getting larger, inflamed or developing irregular edges.
- A change in your normal bowel habit lasting four weeks or more.
- Starting to bleed again after the menopause.
- Mouth ulcers that have not healed after three weeks.